Thaksin Quietly Returns for Third Visit to Cambodia

Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Cambodia yesterday for the third time in three months, an airport police officer said last night.

Mr Thaksin arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport by private jet at 4:10 pm, according to the senior border police officer stationed at the airport. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity due to the secrecy around the former Thai premier’s movements.

Although no sign of Mr Thaksin was visible at the residential villa where he stayed during his last visit to the capital in December, several members of the Prime Minister Bodyguard Unit were stationed yesterday night in the vicinity of the house.

The bodyguards declined to comment on Mr Thaksin’s whereabouts, as did their commander, RCAF Deputy Commander in Chief Lieutenant General Hing Bun Heang, who said that he could not comment on security issues related to Mr Thaksin.

Other senior government officials said they were unaware of Mr Thaksin’s reported arrival, though Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith confirmed the arrival to an international news service. Mr Kanharith could not be reached for further comment last night.

The Bangkok Post reported last week that Deputy Thai Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban accused Mr Thaksin of planning a trip to Phnom Penh in order to foment revolution in neighboring Thailand.

“It is known that Thaksin has joined hands with Hun Sen to use Cambodia as his political command base, as it is nearer than his Dubai base,” Mr Suthep said.

On Tuesday night, according to The Bangkok Post, Mr Thaksin posted a message on his website from Papua New Guinea warning that Thailand “would be in flames” if certain policies of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government continued.

Over the past few weeks, longstanding political tensions in Thailand have escalated, with Mr Thaksin’s red shirts mounting protest after protest in advance of a Feb 26 verdict in the telecom billionaire’s asset seizure trial.

      (Additional reporting Hul Reaksmey)


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